So I recently received a letter asking me some wonderful questions. I thought you might enjoy both the questions and the responses. So here they are:
· What are some of the things that you wish you would have done that you didn’t do, before leaving on your mission?
I wish that I would have kept a better journal before my mission of the experiences I had had that increased my testimony. Oftentimes when I am teaching I know that I have a story to relate from my life about how I gained a testimony of a certain principle, and it takes me too long to think of it (if it ever does come to me).
I also wish that I would have kept up on my piano skills better, and that I was able to sight-read most of the hymns from the hymn book. Sure I can play, but only poorly, and not well enough to play in church. I am surprised how much musical skills are needed in congregations throughout the world!
Also, I wish that I would have recorded the blessing that I received when I was set apart as a missionary, and that I had typed it up and brought it with me. I frequently refer back to the promises from that blessing in my mind, and wish that I had all of it written down!
· What has been the hardest thing that you have experienced while you have been gone?
The hardest things that I have experienced for me have been pretty much what I expected, but not in the magnitude that I expected:) But I know that these are VERY different for each person who decides to serve a mission.
Most missionaries who have never been away from home for a long time struggle with things associated with leaving home (homesickness, living on their own, culture shock, etc), none of which really were a problem for me.
I have had a problem with the rigidness of the missionary schedule, and not being able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, essentially however I wanted:) Ha ha - I'm still struggling with that!
· What has been the most surprising part of this whole experience for you?
Actually, one of the more surprising things has been how homesick I haven't been (especially once I arrived at the MTC), and the complete difference you feel once you are a missionary. Once at the MTC, you feel a different spirit INSTANTLY. It is incredible. The Spirit really carries you from place to place, and protects you (for the most part) from the feelings of homesickness as you are obedient and doing all that you can to be a good missionary.
I also love how much you can still be yourself as a missionary. This might sound dumb, but I knew that I did NOT want to turn into a missionary robot as soon as I entered the field, as some people do. So I do all that I can to make sure I am still myself. We still have humor and silliness in our days, and really quite enjoy ourselves. I think that is vitally important. I feel so bad for the missionaries who look so serious all the time, I think I would die if I had to be like that for 18 months straight. Heavenly Father knows that is not a feat I am capable of :)
· What do you think is the most important thing that teenagers should be doing as high school students to help them prepare themselves for going on a mission?
I thought of a few things for this one, many which probably won't be different than what many of the youth are probably already doing. By studying and learning the gospel (especially attending seminary!), the youth will be so very prepared for a mission. The majority of the best scriptures we use in teaching are scripture mastery scriptures! I wish I remembered more of them.
Also by being examples of missionaries NOW. I found that I was not afraid to share the gospel once I got to the mission field, mainly because it felt no different to me than it did in high school or when I lived in Florida and people would ask me about the church, except for I just do it now 24/7.
It's also good for teenagers now to know that ANYONE and EVERYONE can serve a mission. I know missionaries who are very effective who are quiet and shy, who are converts and the only members in their family, who are serving at the ages of 23, 25, and 27, who never considered serving a mission before they turned in their papers, etc. The Lord can and will use everyone on a mission.
Feel free to write me with more questions if any of you have them - I'd be happy to answer them :) I also really like packages. But maybe I've said that before.